Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 13:37:08 -0700
From: Peter Bentley <P.Bentley@cs.ucl.ac.uk>
To: memetics <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Meme Extinction
> I was reading through the JOM, and was struck by the notion of memes going
> extinct. A paradox occurred to me. Would it not be impossible, by
> definition, to study "extinct" memes?
> After all, if we define extinction of a meme as a lack of habitation in any
> sort of information storage or transmission medium (such as a book or human
> mind), wouldn't the very act of studying the meme revive it from
> extinction? The person studying it would necessarily then become the host
> for the meme, and it would then no longer be extinct. Sort of a catch-22.
If an extinct meme cannot exist in any form of information storage, it cannot
be studied. By finding a single reference in some obscure book, you prove that
it was never extinct at all.
So a truly extinct meme cannot be searched for directly. Only the 'gap' can
be searched for, e.g. a missing word describing something that required a
word for it, in a language.
See what I meme?
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)